Wooden windows add a certain character and aesthetic appeal that more modern and aluminum windows just can’t offer. The problem, however, is that wooden windows need regular and proper maintenance to ensure that they are functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing.
If you have wooden windows in your home, time, weathering, and moisture can wreak havoc if neglected; this is why scheduling window maintenance into an annual home maintenance routine is a necessity. Here are a few tips and tricks to keeping your windows working perfectly for as long as possible, hopefully saving you time, and money, in the process:
STEP 1: Assess the condition of the window.
As wooden windows are very susceptible to weathering and organic influences like rot or insects, there are a number of things to look out for.
- Identify the finish, paint or other treatments are not cracking or peeling.
There are a number of different finishes:
Varnish allows a natural finish while protecting the wood from humidity and natural weathering. Time and harsh sunlight, however, causes the varnish to become brittle and crack and peel, allowing water behind it leading and potentially damaging the frames.
How to: Rather than sanding down and recoating your entire window, which is very hard work; sand down only the outer exposed parts of the window and simply roughen the unexposed parts slightly with sandpaper to provide something for the new varnish to adhere to. For the tough spots: use paint remover or sugar-soap to remove old varnish- just make sure to wash thoroughly and allow the wood to dry completely before re-varnishing.
An oilier, thinner, solvent-based varnish that is as easy to apply and maintain. Sealants can provide up to 5 years of protection, though annual maintenance, especially when the coating becomes dry, is advised.
How to: Lightly sand the frame or wipe down the surface with mineral turpentine before drying and recoating.
This older, traditional method of sealing natural finish wooden windows uses oil to seal and nourish or “feed” the wood. Oil, however, has a short lifespan and if applied too thickly will create buildup.
How to: Scrape off any build-up and wash the surfaces with mineral turpentine, allow to dry completely, and re-oil regularly.
- Identify any damaged, sticking, peeling, cracking, or leaking (air or water) parts of the frame, as well as the joints – Consider resin or splicing techniques to repair broken portions of your windows and prevent against further damp and decay.
- Make sure there are no badly constructed areas allowing water to pool or seep into the frames
STEP 2: Maintenance or Repair tasks OR STEP 3: If the damage is beyond your skill, call a professional and get some free quotes (research beforehand and contact your local heritage and preservation organizations about restoring older homes and for local service providers they may recommend).
Remember: Regular maintenance and repairs will protect your most valuable asset, and save you time and money in the end.